I always wanted more children of my own but was only blessed with one son. I’d mistakenly assumed that I’d be unable to foster as a single parent. How wrong I was! It wasn’t until I bumped into an old school friend who was fostering that I realised that wasn’t the case. I started looking into fostering straight away and quickly started my journey to becoming a foster carer.
You do need a spare room to foster (although not for Home from Home care) but I didn’t have one. I was passionate about becoming a foster carer and managed to convert my garage into an extra bedroom which my then 11-year-old son was thrilled to move into, leaving me upstairs with a spare room ready to foster.
Over eight years I’ve fostered 17 children, whose placements have ranged from one night to more than two years. The children I’ve looked after have included new-borns straight from hospital, sibling groups for a few weeks and a few older ones for a couple of nights. I have moved children on to adoption, back to birth mum, abroad to nan in Poland and onto another foster carer. Every ending brings mixed emotions: it’s like having bereavement in our family, as every child becomes a part of your life, but we are really pleased for the children when they find happiness in a forever home and we know we’ve helped them on their journey and made a difference to their lives. My son thinks of them all as his siblings, each one has bought a different dynamic to our house but all of them have brought us joy.
I’ve had a number of jobs over the years, working in accounts, as a childminder and at a nursery, but fostering is a job that makes you feel proud and is definitely my best one yet! It’s such a privilege to be able to be a small part of these children’s lives and to watch them blossom and be able to enjoy their childhoods again. And, it truly makes our day as carers to receive a photo or a text with news of how a child we have moved on is doing.
My fostering story changes a bit here, as after two years of looking after a gorgeous little girl, I’m thrilled to now be adopting her! I couldn’t be happier. Fostering has enriched my life in so many ways and, so if you’re interested, please don’t let anything stop you from finding out more. If you’re anything like me, you’ll never regret it.
Mandy Foley is a foster carer with Slough Children’s Services Trust
If Mandy has inspired you and you are interested in becoming a foster carer then please email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 0800 0730291. One of our advisors would be happy to talk to you about fostering in more detail and perhaps start you on an exciting new journey.